Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Three Rides and Two Beauties (and One Little Fuzzy)

Pie and I were able to get in three rides in a row on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  On Sunday, the temperatures were hovering almost at 30F with only some wind and a bit of sun, so it was pretty nice.  We went out for almost an hour and a half with Charisma on a long walking trail ride - the trails were too hard for trotting.  Pie led the whole way and did very well.  Our objective that day was to get out and do some distance, and to maintain a good marching walk while leading the way - he tends to get a bit slow when he's in front. And while waiting for Charisma to get ready, we worked on our patience by doing the "just standing around" exercise.  He pretty quickly figured out that standing still on a loose rein was what I wanted, and I think he would have stood there all day if I'd wanted.

On Monday, Pie and I went out solo for about 45 minutes.  There was some slight excitement when Pie and I had to pass a very large garbage truck that was parked on the road right next to the trail.  Pie was very worried about it - he's usually pretty good about trucks and equipment but this truck was looming next to the trail at a point where the trail is narrow and there isn't anywhere else to go.  Usually I'll let the horse choose a comfortable distance to pass by a scary thing like this, but that wasn't an option.  So I dismounted and led him back and forth by it a few times and then remounted on the far side and rode on down the trail.  He was pretty up for the rest of the ride, but listened well to my seat.  We did a game of a certain number of "restricted" steps - I would slightly resist with my seat to ask him to shorten his stride - followed by a certain number of unrestricted strides.  It was fun and gave him something to think about.  We accomplished our objectives of a good marching walk away from home (no slows) and a not rushing walk towards home.

On Tuesday it was snowing pretty hard, with temperatures in the high 20sF, and Pie and I went for a quick ride with Sugar and Scout.  The snow wasn't as pleasant when we were faced into the wind, but when the wind was at our backs it was very nice.  I didn't want Pie to get too wet, since he was going to need to be blanketed for the cold and wind that night and I didn't want him wet under his blanket, so we turned back to the barn as Sugar and Scout went out on another loop.  Pie didn't much like that, even though we were heading back to the barn - he's pretty attached to Scout.  There was a bit of turning in circles and some head-shaking, and he was thinking about blowing through the sidepull - it's like riding in a glorified halter - and I didn't want him to do that - I would have been able to stop him but didn't want any of that bracing behavior to develop - so I dismounted before he got to trying that.  We stood on the trail for a bit - he did some calling and circling but it wasn't bad - he's good about staying out of my space.  We were very close to the barn, and I walked him back there and remounted and we walked around briefly.  He was still interested in where his friends were, and there was a bit more circling.  I got to the place I'd been steering him towards and dismounted.  I tied him in the aisle for a while with a cooler on, so he could chill out.  He's gotten much better about going out on rides by himself, but splitting off from a group still gives him trouble - we'll just keep nibbling away at that as opportunity permits.  We'll do some more focussed away from group/back to group work as well.

Three rides in a row and five rides total in January so far - not too bad for this part of the world at this time of year!

I'm not riding today - it's too cold and windy.  I did morning feeding, blanketing and turnout and then cleaned Dawn's stall and Pie's paddock, and spent some time dealing with a water tank problem.  One of the tank heaters in the dry lots had tripped the GFI overnight, so I had to break the ice on the tank with my boot.  We have occasional trouble with the pair of outlets that we use for the two dry lot tank heaters - for some reason - I'd love to get my hands on the person that did it - when the outlets were installed, they were put on a stalk that's only ankle high.  This not only means that you have to get on your hands and knees to work with the outlets - in the snow this morning - but also that it's hard to keep moisture (or snow) away from them.  Of course this is an improvement from how the place was set up originally - luckily before my time - when there was no electricity or water available in the dry lots or pastures (or for heated buckets in the barn) - I guess they thought the horses would just stand around and look decorative and never need to drink any water!

* * * * * *
Here's a sweet picture of Maisie (left) and Lily (right - doing her best impersonation of a hairy yak) at the salt block that Melissa of Paradigm Farms took:

And Norman the pony displaying adorable pony fuzziness:


  1. Oh I want to steal that fuzzy bear of a pony :)
    The standing around exercise is so great. Laz and I work on that. It helps him learn the spook in place being his instinct is RUN, then think about what scared him. It works great as a reward to stand still, loose legs, loose reins and coooooing to him. Your Pie is so lovely! What a great horse to have.

  2. I think it's great you got to go on so many rides and reinforce some lessons with Pie. He really is a good guy for a young horse.

    The retirees look like they're enjoying themselves and fuzzy Norman is just too cute.

  3. I'm so glad you've gotten some rides in! I still don't have great winter riding gear, and Speechless is SUCH a priss about the mud that we haven't done much of anything since December. She's barefoot, so I'm considering some easy boots to see if it would help.

    All your reitrees look so happy--GOSH are Lily and Norman fuzzy; they're so stinkin cute!!!

  4. Sounds like nice rides. I'm a fair weather rider, so won't be back on board for a bit longer (last year the club was able to start riding in February!)

    I saw those photos on Melissa's blog--what a great retirement! Lily reminds me of the little flea-bitten gray Morgan-Welsh cross that my kids learned to ride on back in the mountains of Montana--We used to call him a yak, too!

  5. You winter riders amaze me! I'm starting to rethink my riding philosophy. lol. Riding around your barn with horses at the stable has to be the most challenging of all things for any horse--when separated. If you can do that, you can do anything. Will you be trailering away in the spring/summer/fall?

  6. Good work. Nothing like consistency when you can get it, especially this time of year.


  7. Hairy yak! I like that one! When Flip, who is a black and white piebald, and Blondie, who is the hairiest pony I know, go outside together, we always joke that there's a cow and alpaca out in the pasture, not two ponies! LOL!

  8. I love reading about how you handle issues with Pie.

    Val is also reluctant to move away from a group - even when it's a group that we happen to meet up with on the beach - not our original group, lol.

    The retirees look very content and comfortable :)

  9. I love the exercise you did with your seat to shorten and lengthen the walk stride. I do this too and it's one of the best things for warming up my horse. Glad you were able to get three rides in - they sounds great and Pie is doing so well.

  10. We also do what I call the "seat squinching" exercise - it's amazing how the most subtle resistance is clear as a bell to the horse - I think it's a great exercise for us, too, getting those muscles used to being very controlled and subtle.

    I wish you'd do a post completely geared to dressing for riding in cold weather. Part of the reason I don't is that I don't have proper riding attire for temps below 35 or so - and if you add wind it gets that much worse.

  11. There used to be a horse club that held its annual "season starting" schooling show, the Fuzzy Wuzzy show. Had a contest for the fuzziest horse/pony in the show. Same pony won it year after year. Nothing cuter than a fuzzball pony, fersher.

    I am a fair weather rider, too, generally because it stays lighter later in the day and there is more TIME to ride. Winters seem colder on my old bones this year.

  12. You're one of a few riders I know who dismount their horses in situations like the ones you described in your post. I'm always amazed because I feel much safer and more in control when I'm sitting in the saddle than I do if I'm standing with the horse. Perhaps Pie is more calm than I'm imagining (or than my horses are), but I'm glad it works well for him. There have been times where I wanted to dismount but chose to stay in the saddle.

    Paradigm Farms takes wonderful care of your horses!

  13. in2paints - for me, it depends on the horse and the situation. If it's rideable and doesn't put me in the position of "making" the horse do something, I ride. If I need to reassure a worried horse, or help the horse through something safely, I'll get off - but it requires a horse with really good ground manners even when worried - Pie's OK for this. This is one reason I don't take Dawn on the trail - she can "go away" and become truly dangerous if you're on the ground if she's scared or upset - so dismounting is never an option and riding things out may not be either.

    In the case of Pie and the garbage truck, there was no safe space to work it through - so I dismounted to lead him by, giving him confidence. In the case of the spinning in circles when his buddies left, I could have probably ridden through it but didn't want him pushing on the sidepull. He was also reassured by my standing with him - some horses are.

  14. Glad you've gotten so much riding in and that pony is adorable.

  15. Kate - you are an intrepid rider in all that wind and snow and cold!
    I just left a comment on my blog about my "never wanting to dismount" comment. I don't mind dismounting at all if I need to for safety (although I am not very brave on the ground) or if I feel my being on the ground will help the horse. I meant that I never want to dismount as in I never want the ride to end. In fact, the first ride that you describe in this post - when you went out for an hour and a half long walking trail ride sounds perfect to me. I never want to quit riding is what I should have said.
    Your fluffballs at Melissa's farm are adorable!!!

  16. Kate, You had such good rides lately! And Pie is learning well. That's such great work for in the dead of winter. And congratulations on Drifter coming in March - he'll be an exciting addition!

  17. I was interested in your story about dismounting too and your reply to in2paints. There are times I get off, if I feel it is the safest and wisest thing to do. "Winning" in a situation isn't important, as much as helping the horse learn something, and working through things in a way that leaves the horse in the calmest state of mind possible in the situation, and safety is most important. I liked your comment about the horse needing to have good manners on the ground too.

  18. Yep, you're starting off 2011 really well with riding. Pie is such a good boy, too.

    That Norman is so cute. I just want to hug him.
    Maisie's socks make her look like she has extremely long pasterns.


  19. Linda - yes, I'm hoping to do lots of trailering out once spring and summer come - we've got lots of great trails within 20 minutes to 1/2 hour.

    Laughing Orca - Maisie does indeed have long pasterns - that's one of the causes of her persistent soundness issues, unfortunately, although it made her very comfortable to ride.


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